A TOTAL of 16,000 homes and businesses in West Cheshire now receive high speed broadband.
Connecting Cheshire, the partnership set up to boost Superfast fibre broadband availability, has announced that a further 16,000 premises now have access to the high-speed technology that can transform lives and businesses.
This brings the total figure across Cheshire to more than 31,000.
The latest areas in West Cheshire to benefit from the expansion of the network include much of Tarporley, Tarvin, Sandiway and Saughall.
They follow parts of Chester, Christleton, Tattenhall, Guilden Sutton, Neston and Weaverham, which went ‘live’ during the spring.
The news comes as the Government announced last week that more than one million UK homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband as a result of the UK-wide rollout.
An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 premises are now gaining access every week and the programme will extend superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017.
Cheshire residents and businesses can check availability of fibre broadband by visiting the website www.connectingcheshire.org.uk. If it is available, they need to contact their internet service provider, shop around for the best deal for them and order an upgrade to fibre broadband.
Connecting Cheshire is a partnership of four councils – Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington – and BT, with additional funding from BDUK and the EU.
The £28.5m project will provide fibre broadband to more than 80,000 homes and businesses. This builds on BT’s commercial investment so 96 per cent of Cheshire – about 400,000 premises – will have access to speeds of up to 80Mbps by the end of 2015.
Bryan Evans of Tarvin, near Chester, recently took advantage of the arrival of superfast fibre broadband in his village and has seen his broadband speed rise from around 5Mbps to more than 35Mbps.
Mr Evans is taking full advantage of his new service and enjoying the ability to use online video links with friends and relatives, TV catch-up services, follow stock market trends and is a keen eBay user.
He said: “I am much happier with my broadband service since switching to fibre, it is more consistent with no drop-outs and the installation was very simple; the engineer came on the day I arranged with my internet provider and also gave me some helpful advice on how to get the best possible speed by simplifying the wiring in my home. I would definitely recommend upgrading.”
Ward councillor Eveleigh Moore Dutton, who represents Tarporley, said: “Our roll-out is already making a big impact.
“Many homes and businesses are now taking advantage of the opportunity to upgrade to fibre broadband and seeing how it can bring significant social and economic benefits and in many cases see a reduction in their costs as broadband charges are falling all the time.”
Mike Blackburn, BT regional director for the North West, said: “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Openreach engineers in tackling a complex task, a further 16,000 Cheshire homes and businesses can benefit from this faster and more reliable technology. Connecting Cheshire really is playing its part in helping to reach the milestone UK wide one million figure announced by the Government.”
Sir Howard Bernstein, vice chairman of the North West European Regional Development Fund local management committee, said: “This programme is already helping local businesses make the most of superfast broadband, improving performance and helping to create and safeguard jobs. It is providing a major boost to the Cheshire economy and the North West European Regional Development Fund programme is pleased to be supporting it financially.”
Following a recent Government announcement, the public sector partners within Connecting Cheshire will be working on its superfast extension programme from March, 2015, looking to invest a further £4m in superfast broadband infrastructure so that even more areas are connected.
The network, being built by more than 100 planners and engineers at Openreach, BT’s local network business, will be open to all communications providers on an equal basis. Currently more than 140 communications providers offer fibre broadband services over BT’s network. This will enable the people of Cheshire to choose the provider and broadband package that best suits their need. About 875 miles of fibre-optic cable will be laid and more than 400 new roadside cabinets installed by spring 2015.